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Rightifying the Wrong in this World

It was a bustling Friday afternoon at the local Starbucks. I sat in my static perch upon a street side bar stool from which I watched the dynamism of the streetscape move to and fro before me. Given that I was already in a state of contemplation in order to gather my thoughts for an upcoming teaching at Illini Life's large group campus meeting, I was well-positioned to carefully observe the scene which was about to play out before my eyes.

Awash in the refreshing warmth of a beautiful autumn day, two girls with Starbucks in hand were wrapped up in each other's words about their latest college experiences. Separated only by a window pane and anonymity, I watched as a wheelchair slowed to a stop adjacent the girls' cozy table and the two girls' afternoon bliss plummeted from its lofty perch. A woman whose face and posture bore the marks of a somber numbness made acquaintance with these two young women and presumably requested some form of charity. Rarely does such a scene play out directly in front of me in such slow motion, but this day was different. I studied as each girl's body language shifted in her seat. Cups were clenched tightly. Fingernails were picked. Postures stiffened. Unease colored each face. The scene was thick with discomfort. Even through the glass, I could hear the girls' thoughts: "I don't know what to say or do right now. Can't this just go away?" No money changed hands. No food was shared. The woman flicked her fingers forward on the wheelchair lever and her chair propelled forward. The two girls exchanged uneasy glances with one another as they grasped for the elusive feeling of happiness they shared before their world was interrupted.

As I watched this scene unfold, everything in me wanted to wave a magic wand over these women. I wanted those two girls to feel free, to feel uninhibited, to give lavishly to this woman without fear of loss or exploitation. I wanted the woman of need to be free from her wheelchair, to be free from the pain and lack which wheeled her to that table. I wanted it all to be made right.

Groans, groans
All creation moans
Waiting, waiting
The song to sing
Of redemption, redemption
To Father, Spirit, Son
How long, how long
'Til right erases wrong?
-Inspired by Romans 8






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